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Innovative investment and partnership with local leaders are a critical component of the Collaborative’s Sector Leadership work to help bring change across North Carolina.

Our work in Bertie County with the Hive House is a model we plan to replicate in other communities across the state.  With support from a 2016 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the Initiative is helping the Hive House renovate their community center as a first step in expanded connections and services to the community.

The Hive House and Bertie County have gained national attention thanks to the  film Raising Bertie, a documentary chronicling the path of three African-American young men struggling to find their way in school and in a community with limited employment opportunities.

For these young men it is a major milestone to now have cars, to have jobs, to work continuously. Ten years ago they didn’t see this in their future. Now they see themselves moving even further up the ladder because of collaborating partners and people who have come into their lives.

The film has given visibility across the state and across the country to the problems facing Bertie County.  Lack of access to housing and high housing costs, illustrated in this Bertie County Profile developed by our partners at the NC Housing Coalition, epitomize the challenges for the community.

NC Initiative CEO Tara Kenchen, Hive House Director Vivian Saunders, and Victory Temple Church in Windsor’s Dr. Gary Cordon spoke with Deborah Holt Noel about the film and how the Initiative’s partnership with the Hive House could transform the community. Holt asked Kenchen how the visibility from the film could help drive long-term solutions.

Many people know Bertie is the absolute poorest county in the state. There are few jobs. Many people are “house-burdened”. We know community revitalization depends on local leadership. Our hope is that leadership combined with offering them investment and practical steps and practical information will create longer-term change.

Partnership. Technical support. Engaged local leadership. Dr. Cordon’s words capture the essence of Saunder’s work at the Hive House, and what can happen when all work together.

Too many of us lead from the pulpit, the office, or from our professions…where we actually should be leading as people, and actually getting out in the community. Saunders has grabbed us by the hand and said, “come on and walk with me”.